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Amit Chopra, CEO, Hindustan Media Ventures Ltd. holds a Bachelor’s degree in Technology from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and a post graduate Diploma in Management from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He joined Hindustan Media Ventures Limited as Chief Executive Officer on January 1, 2010. He has over 13 years of experience and has previously worked with HT Media, Hindustan Lever Limited and EXL India Private Limited.
Hindustan Media Ventures publishes and print Hindustan’. Hindustan was first published in 1936, owing its origins to and serving as a medium for the freedom movement, and has been one of Hindi newspaper dailies for over 70 years. ‘Hindustan’ has the largest Readership in key Hindi-speaking markets of Bihar and Jharkhand (with a readership of 4.5mn and 1.35mn respectively, source: IRS Q1 2010), with a strong and growing presence in Delhi NCR (second largest paper) and the states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Speaking with Hemant Maradia and Yash Ved of IIFL, Amit Chopra says "We are planning to mobilise about Rs3bn from the IPO."
Brief us about the print media landscape?
The Indian media industry has grown very well in the last five years and by most means it is still seen as the under-penetrated market in terms of advertisement intensity. As consumption increases and GDP rises, the advertising revenues are also expected be very strong.
Within the overall media sector, print has been growing very well. It is the largest part of the Indian media industry today and will continue to remain strong even in future for two reasons. One, India is still an under-penetrated market as far as print media is concerned. Even among literate population the print media’s penetration is low.
As literacy and income rise, print media, particularly the regional language print media will continue to be very strong.
Secondly, from the advertisers’ point of view, most of the regional print markets are under-monetised. Earlier these markets were not developing as fast as the Metros. Now what is happening is the Metro markets are more or less saturated.
Within the language space, Hindi is the largest spoken language in the country. As language print grows, we believe that Hindi print media will grow faster.
Tell us about Hindustan’s position in print media space?
We are one of the leading print media companies in India in terms of Readership (Source: IRS, Q1 2010). We publish and print Hindustan, the third largest daily newspaper in India with a Readership of 9.9 mn readers (Source: IRS, Q1 2010).
We are one of the fastest growing Hindi daily newspapers in India with a growth in Readership of 9.2% in the period between July 2006 and June 2009 (Source: IRS, R2 2007 to R2 2009).
Hindustan is published in four editions and 113 sub-editions.
Hindustan has emerged as the third largest Hindi newspaper from being the sixth largest Hindi newspaper in 2005, in terms of Readership (Source: IRS).
What about your readership?
Hindustan has the largest Readership in key Hindi-speaking markets of Bihar and Jharkhand, with a Readership of 4.5 million and 1.4 million, respectively (Source: IRS, Q12010). In addition, it has grown to become the second largest Hindi newspaper in Delhi NCR (Source: IRS, Q1 2010).
In the state of Uttar Pradesh, which is the largest market for Hindi newspapers in India, Hindustan was the fastest growing Hindi newspaper between 2007 and 2009 in comparison to its largest competitors (Source: IRS, R2 2007 to R2 2009).
The company is presently in key Hindi speaking markets which constitute about 38% of India’s population.
It has a dominant position in Bihar, No.1 in Jharkhand, third in UP but growing very rapidly. It is the second largest Hindi daily in Delhi and NCR.
Our daily readership is about 10mn while the total readership is around 30mn. In the latest IRS survey our daily readership has grown by 6% and the overall readership is up by about 5%.
In Bihar, Hindustan has a 75% share of the readership and we still continue to grow. In a three-player market we have a 53% share in readership in Jharkhand. In UP, we are the fastest growing print daily brand thanks to our increased investments.
What has been the growth in your ad revenues?
Growth in our ad revenue has been around 33% in the last three years as against industry growth rate of around 10-12%.
Our EBIDTA margins were at about 20%.
Brief us about your IPO plans? How do you plan to utilize the funds?
We are planning to mobilise about Rs3bn from the IPO. We have filed the DRHP with market regulator SEBI and expect to list in about 2-3 months depending upon clearances and market conditions.
As part of the plan to buy the Hindi print business from HT Media, we had taken a term loan. The company has a debt of about Rs1.35bn on its books. We want to repay the entire debt and make the company debt-free. Part of the IPO funds will be used to augment our printing infrastructure and a part will be set aside for our proposed greenfield locations.
Brief us about your expansion plans?
UP has the largest Hindi speaking population as compared to any other state in India. While we have been present in the state for over 10 years, we seek to compete with the market leaders Dainik Jagran and Amar Ujala in UP.
Over the past three years, we have made significant investments in UP and have opened 5 new printing locations to add to our existing printing facilities in Varanasi and Lucknow.
We intend to further consolidate and expand the presence of Hindustan in UP with the setting up of our 8th printing facility in the state which is currently under construction.
We believe that the Hindi print market offers substantial opportunities. In newer markets like Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab, we continue to explore opportunities to establish our presence, both organically and inorganically.
We also intend to look for opportunities to expand the footprint of Hindustan, especially in high growth regions and locations, which provide synergies to our existing editions.
As part of this strategy, we plan to use Rs660mn from the net proceeds of this IPO to establish new publishing units
What was the whole rational behind demerging the Hindi entity from the parent?
See, HT Media is a pretty diversified player in the media space. At the same time, we felt that the regional print business has quite different dynamics. So, we decided to separate the Hindi print business so that each company could focus on its own core areas of thrust.
This will bring transparency for the investors. Also, we felt that Hindustan has now emerged as a strong brand and has grown into a decent size business. It can sustain on its own and fund its future growth and expansion.
In which areas are you expanding? Tell us about your printing facilities?
Hindustan’ is presently printed at 16 locations in the states/regions of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Delhi NCR with a total installed rated capacity approximately 0.78 million copies per hour.
These printing facilities are located at Agra, Allahabad, Bareilly, Bhagalpur, Dehradun, Delhi NCR, Dhanbad, Jamshedpur, Kanpur, Lucknow, Meerut, Mohali, Muzaffarpur, Patna, Ranchi and Varanasi.
HMVL distributes newspapers through a multi-tiered network of agents and vendors.
Brief us about your newly launched magazine.
We also publish two Hindi magazines, Nandan, a children‘s magazine, and Kadambini, a general interest magazine. We also operate the website, www.livehindustan.com, which focuses on providing news in Hindi with regional content.
Further, we have recently forayed into event management and customized event solutions.
Brief us about your promoter holding?
The current prompter holding is 98.85%.
How do you see the trend in newsprint prices?
We see them range bound after dropping sharply during the economic slowdown of 2008 and 2009. International newsprint prices are in US$600-650 band.